Another method of ensuring lesser crowd at ticket counters seems to have been thought of. The Indian Railways have proposed to keep their staff with handheld devices for sale of unreserved tickets (UTS) outside windows at ticket booking offices. This comes after they launched mobile ticketing and are pushing for ATVMs while they curbed tickets through CVTMs couple of years ago.
Suresh Prabhu has announced sale of UTS tickets through handheld point of sale terminals in his budget speech. However sources said that at present it is unclear about whether it would be specifically for subyurban system or the long distance trains.
"At present we have onlyu heard about the handheld device. But then there is no clarity if this would be specifically introduced for the suburban commuters or would target the long distance train passengers who also queue up,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.
However its working is such that a railway staff would stand at the window – apart from the one inside – to sell rail tickets. The machine would issue the ticket as same as how the computer operated window ticketing does. There is also no clarity on if there are high fare journey involved then how will the staff manage that.
This, at present is at least seen as an alternative for suburban system where the money transactions are minimum and aren’t of high denominations. Currently staff can be seen at Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) who use their smart card to generate suburban ticket.
"This is being done to promote ATVMs which is slowly growing,” said another official. Both CR and WR has seen growth in sales through ATVMs to up to 22 percent while the windown sales of season passes remain the highest with around 65 percent. The railway officials stated that this growth was namely after they shut down the Coupon Validating Machines (CVMs) from the suburban rail, which had become very popular. It namely required people to stamp coupons inside the machines.
Meanwhile officials also said that these handheld devices need to be maintained properly. Few years ago the Ticket Checkers (TCs) were carrying them inside Rajdhani and other high-end trains to catch people traveling without tickets or waitlisted ones. Its purpose was not only to levy fine to passengers but also generate ticket from the place of journey. However these devices were found to have problems in its GPS system which led to its deterioration in usage.
Tickets would be sold with handheld machines at the windows of railway stations
It could be for long distance and suburban trains
Earlier TCs were given these machines to verify and issue fresh tickets if in case they catch an illegally passenger traveling including levying fines